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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Monday, March 24, 2014

Powerful and satisfying!

In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist by Ruchama King Feuerman 

Souls are searched, feelings exposed and motives uncovered in this fascinating novel. A tale of dreams lost and new directions found--however unexpected.
Forty year old Isaac Markowitz left his haberdashery shop in the Lower East Side and came to Israel. He has been assisting a Kabbalist, an unimposing, gentle rabbe who along with his wife dispenses wisdom to the neighbourhood and to those who seek answers.
Mustafa, a Muslim works on the Temple Mount as a custodian. His neck has been damaged since birth with his head turned looking over his right side. He cannot turn his neck straight on. All his life he has been disparaged, rejected and dismissed as of no worth because of this difference.
I must admit I too found it hard to look at Mustafa in our first encounters.  
Then his humanness took over, his longing to be worthy, his actions of endeavouring to be the best kohein, his desire for friendship and acceptance.    
Isaac is really a similar soul to Mustafa. Unsure, damaged yet working towards being more worthwhile, of discovering who he is and can become.
That first encounter between Isaac and Mustafa is so brief and passing, yet from that moment Mustafa finds a new way of looking at his tasks, as that of a kohein, a high priest, caring for the temple.
Truly, a Woody Allen sadness imbibes them both.
For me the story is drawn in browns and greys with flashes of crimson.
The ironies revealed, their juxtapositions, are simple and deep, sometimes delightful and at others devastating.
I enjoyed Isaac's developing relationship with Mustafa, with Tamar the new convert, and his realization about the nature of the relationship between Rabbe Yehudah and his wife.
Mustafa brings an artifact, a clay pomegranate to show the rebbe that he has found on the Mount. From this action flows a river of consequences for both him and Isaac.
At once beautifully and starkly told with wonderful twists and revelations. The memory stays with you.

A NetGalley ARC

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